Islands in the Stream Part 3, Chapter 12 Summary

Ernest Hemingway

Part 3, Chapter 12 Summary

In the morning, Thomas Hudson guides the cruiser down the channel, which is rocky and dangerous but safer than sailing down the inside of the keys. Antonio joins him and comments on the coming heat of the day, similar to the day before. Thomas Hudson plans to check with the keeper of the lighthouse to find out any news of the Germans. Antonio offers to go on land to ask because he knows the lighthouse keeper.

The other men come up on deck. They speak of the ships they have seen in the past, much bigger than any ships they were acquainted with. Willie reminds them that they are not searching for submarines or aircraft carriers but a small half-open boat. They approach the lighthouse, and Antonio catches a barracuda to take as a gift. They catch more fish for themselves, though Thomas Hudson regrets the lost time. Willie and Henry get into an argument. Thomas Hudson warns Henry to go easy on Willie, who is valuable to him on this expedition. Henry promises to try to not needle him. Willie comes back with a sandwich for Thomas Hudson, but he has clearly started drinking already, despite the early hour. Thomas Hudson berates him for getting drunk so early, but Willie claims he is ill and needs the ship’s surgeon (meaning the bathroom). Ara and Henry discuss Willie’s seeming slide to craziness. Ara says that Willie has suffered, but Ara points out that Thomas Hudson has suffered as well, and he is drinking only iced tea.

Thomas Hudson approaches the island where the lighthouse sits. There are wild horses, cattle, and hogs on the island, which shows that someone thought they would colonize it but did not succeed. All the houses are abandoned except the one big one for the lighthouse keeper. Ara returns with the news that Willie is more than drunk. There seems to be something seriously wrong with him. Thomas Hudson suggests that they keep Willie out of the sun. They suggest dropping Willie somewhere like Havana, where he can get medical attention or whatever he needs.

Antonio returns with no news from the lighthouse keeper. He says the Germans must have passed in the night. Thomas Hudson decides to go searching along a few other coasts, and he keeps a four-man watch on deck to spot any signs. He goes below to check on Willie, who apologizes for being a problem. He promises that he will stop drinking, though he drinks to find some relief from his troubled head.